Sydney Metro North West: Day One

Posted: May 26, 2019 in Transport
Tags: , , ,

Over 100,000 people used Sydney Metro today on its first day open to the public, with no fare charged for those travelling between Chatswood and Tallawong. It was the first time in Australia that a driverless train line operated with passengers, but was not without teething issues and delays.

The trains, which travel at a maximum speed of 100km per hour, had a noticeably quick acceleration and deceleration, and complete the journey from end to end in 37 minutes. Platform screen doors are in use and the gap between platform and train is minimal. The stations themselves were modern and fully accessible.

Indicators above each train door show where the train is along the line, as well as showing how far the train has progressed towards the next station. Lights above each set of doors flash red when doors are opening or closing, light up solid green when the doors are open, and light up solid white when the doors are closed.

Some problems did occur. Mechanical failures with trains occurred in both the early afternoon and during the evening, leading to delays of roughly 45 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. With Sydney Metro controlling the number of people who could enter stations to reduce overcrowding, this led to a blowout in queues. Chatswood Station saw a conga line emerge starting from 1:30PM. Many of those in the queue had travelled to Chatswood from the Northwest earlier and were now returning home.

Inside the trains, the air conditioning seemed set to maximum and in-train indicators began having problems from early in the day and were soon turned off. As a result, there was little indication that doors were closing, besides the silent flashing lights that went unnoticed by most. This, together with shorter than normal dwell times, led some passengers to get caught by the doors (including some with prams) or unable to enter/exit in time. The dwell times were noticeably longer as the day progressed, with doors remaining open for 30 to 60 seconds at stations. This would no doubt lengthen journey durations if allowed to continue. However, the in-train indicators appeared to be working again by late Sunday evening and dwell times were back down to a reasonable length.

Trains also routinely overshot their platforms early in the day. This blog’s author counted roughly one in every two trains would stop past its platform screen doors in the early afternoon, requiring the train to reverse before opening its doors. However, this problem did not persist into the late afternoon, by when it was no longer occurring.

All in all it was not a perfect first day, but a few inconveniences should not eclipse the significance of the first complete new train line in Sydney in 40 years. Many of these teething issues, such as the overshooting and in-train indicators, appear to have been fixed by the end of the first day. Tomorrow’s morning peak hour will be a big test for the new line. If all goes well, most of today’s problems will be soon forgotten.

  1. The picture above of a crowded metro train shows it’s an immigration metro. It will get worse with the West Metro.

    Sydney’s Immigration Metros (Part 1)

    The problem is that the actual job at hand is to replace EXISTING car traffic, not to provide transport for newcomers who weren’t here before and who are now housed in new residential towers around stations (often displacing local, decentralized jobs like in Epping) – to fill the trains.

    To spend $8.3 bn for just 20 kms is a huge luxury given that Sydney needs 100s of new rail kms and in a short time. Chinese oil production already peaked in 2015 and the militarization of the South China Sea gives us an idea where we are heading. The Federal government is in total denial mode on this in its April 2019 fuel security review. I wrote 3 articles on my website on this topic.The Middle East is a tinderbox as usual. US shale oil will also peak in the next years.

    In 2010 I advised Peter Colacino to adopt a new business model for Transurban: rail on toll-ways. He did not listen. Transurban now sits on $26 bn debt. In the next credit crunch which may be triggered by another oil crisis (worse than in 2008/09 because of the higher debt and no wiggle room to further lower interest rates), the NSW government will have to bail out Transurban’s NSW based debt. The economy will be weak so there will not be enough money to continue with expensive metros. I wish everyone good luck.

    We are also going to have power shortages which will devalue apartment towers. Then the whole metro (and also light rail) model will come into problems.

    There is no one in government who can do system dynamics to bring it all together.

  2. Jo D says:

    If you are over 6 foot tall the ceilings and doorways are too low 🤔🤔🤔

  3. Ray says:

    @crudeoilpeak – please spare us from your racist diatribe. Your totally delusional rantings about crude oil are also becoming tiresome. This is after all a public transport site. What about some positive comment just for once, rather than your continual doomsday predictions?

  4. Hisashi says:

    Tried out the trains with a friend who regularly gets on/off at Macquarie Park. I’m impressed at how smooth the operation is, and how fast the train travels between Chatswood and Epping. Looking forward to when the Metro line gets extended into the city – though: I wonder what’s happening to the services on the Banktown Line considering there’s still relatively little info on the replacement services.

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